Sickle Cell Disease is the most common genetic blood disorder. With its commonality comes a lot of misconceptions about the condition. We’ve listed some of the most common misconceptions that people have about SCD.
#1 You can Catch SCD From Someone Else
Sickle Cell is a genetic disease and only affects people if they inherit an abnormal hemoglobin gene from each parent. Given that it’s a genetic disorder, you can’t catch SCD from someone who has it simply from exposure or otherwise.
#2 Sickle Cell is an early or mild form of sickle cell disease
Having sickle cells means that one of your parents has an abnormal hemoglobin gene. While some people with a sickle cell trait may experience symptoms of SCD, it’s uncommon.
That being said, it’s still important to test for sickle cell traits. If you’re partner also has a sickle cell trait, there is a 25% chance that your children will have SCD.
#3 Babies born with SCD don't survive to adulthood
In the past, this was a more true statement. These days, more than 90% of children born with SCD do survive until adulthood. Every newborn is screened for SCD to ensure that if a baby does have it, the symptoms are addressed early to prevent strokes or infections.
However, those with SCD do have a shorter life expectancy than an average person. There are more treatments available to improve the quality of life and care for an SCD patient than there were in the past.
#4 Sickle Cell Disease only affects African-Americans
Contracting SCD is not dependent upon race. Whether someone is born with SCD is determined by whether or not both parents have the abnormal hemoglobin gene. SCD has also been found in people of Indian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and Mediterranean ethnicities.
SCD occurs more commonly in people who have ancestors that lived in places affected by malaria. This includes places like the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and India.
In the United States, SCD most commonly presents in African American and Hispanic peoples.